Politics in the Pub: “Can we have energy that is cheap, reliable and clean?”

This Monday (25th of March at 7pm) the Fremantle Network invites you to discuss Energy Policy, and the question “Can we have energy that is cheap, reliable and clean?”

Our guest speakers are:

Josh Wilson, ALP Member for Fremantle
Jesse Hutchinson, Greens Candidate for Fremantle
Nicole Robins, Liberal Candidate for Fremantle (TBC)
plus Bill Hare, the co-founder and CEO of Climate Analytics

Energy has been a very contentious political issue in recent years, impacting elections and political leadership.

The Liberals, Labor and Greens are taking very different federal energy policies to the forthcoming election. Meanwhile there is growing consensus and concern about globally warming.

So what is the best solution?

Can our energy be provided in a way that is cheap and reliable and clean?

As well as enjoying the debate, we also invite you to enjoy the conviviality of the pub experience at The Local Hotel, 282 South Terrace. We start at 7pm, but as always we encourage you to arrive early for food, drink and conversation.

Politics in the Pub regulars – please note that on this occasion the date is Monday 25 March. Normal Tuesday service will resume from April onwards.

From Fibro to Fabulous: Sanctuary Magazine features Freo

There are lots of good reasons to fix up and adapt rather than build new so I was pleased to see the latest issue of Sanctuary (a magazine dedicated to modern green homes) this issue focus on retrofitting our housing.

Over the years I have collected interesting stats like:

  • The demolition of one small old building will negate the environmental benefits of recycling 1,344,000 aluminium cans due to the embodied energy that is lost.
  • …the energy embodied in the existing building stock in Australia is equivalent to ten years of the total energy consumption for the entire country
  • The energy inherent in the material and construction of “a typical Victorian period house contains energy equivalent to 15,000 litres of petrol which is enough to send a car round the world five times, or half way the distance to the moon”

Despite this old fibro houses that we have plenty of around Freo often aren’t seen as worthy of retrofitting. This issue of Sanctuary makes the case as to why you should including taking as one of its many interesting case studies our humble fibro abode in White Gum Valley.

It’s, as they say, available at all good newsagents and bookstores.

Want to use locally produced renewable energy with your own solar PV?

The RENeW Nexus project is looking for residents who do NOT have their own renewable energy or alternative water systems to be part of the ground breaking renewable energy trading program.

This project will assess, in the City of Fremantle, how cities of the future can use combined data and blockchain technology to integrate distributed energy and water systems infrastructure.

The project has lots of “prosumers” those who have renewable energy that can be exported and shared but is still looking for a few more “consumers” who don’t have their own renewable energy.

So you are interested in been involved and buying locally produced renewable energy at a potentially reduced cost then please contact renew.nexus@curtin.edu.au

RENeW Nexus supported and funded by the Australian Government through the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.

The project partners include Curtin University, Power Ledger, City of Fremantle, Murdoch University, Western Power, Synergy, Water Corporation and LandCorp.

Freo’s urban forest is growing

More than 1800 trees have been planted over the past 12 months as part of the plan to create an urban forest in Fremantle.

In the 2017-18 financial year a total of 714 trees were planted by the City of Fremantle on residential verges and in local parks, while another 92 were added as part of the landscaping component of City projects like pocket parks, car parks and walkways.

This follows the planting of 500 verge and park trees in the previous year, and is the result of the doubling of the City’s tree-planting budget from $60,000 to $120,000.

In addition, the City also planted 12,000 plants – including 1015 trees – in dunes, bushland and the river foreshore during nine community planting days and 21 volunteer planting days with conservation volunteers and local schools.

City of Fremantle Parks and Landscapes manager Ryan Abbott said it was all part of the plan to grow the urban forest in Fremantle.

“The City’s Urban Forest Plan forms part of our Greening Fremantle: Strategy 2020, which aims to progressively increase tree planting across the City to achieve at least 20 per cent canopy coverage,” Mr Abbott said.

“An assessment last year showed our canopy coverage was around 13 per cent, so to hit the 20 per cent target we have an ongoing tree planting and revegetation program and are integrating new trees into road and path upgrades wherever we can.

“For this current financial year we’re looking to continue to expand our tree-planting program and plant another thousand trees across Fremantle.”

The suburb of Samson had the highest tree planting numbers in 2017/18 due to the City’s targeted Greening Samson project.

Mapping undertaken for the Urban Forest Plan identified Samson had some of the lowest canopy coverage in Fremantle, which meant Samson was on average two degrees hotter than nearby suburbs due to the urban heat island effect.

A total of 212 trees were planted in Samson alone, while another 299 were planted in Beaconsfield, Hilton and Fremantle, and 203 in South Fremantle, North Fremantle, White Gum Valley and O’Connor.

The species of trees planted included red flowering gums, bottlebrushes, jacarandas and tuart trees, with the varieties carefully chosen to best suit the local conditions and surroundings.

As well as reducing the urban heat island effect by providing more shade, trees also absorb carbon dioxide, filter air pollutants and provide a natural cooling effect by releasing moisture through their leaves.

Planting more trees also helps to connect regional bushland to the coast and provides habitat and food for native animals.

For more information visit the Urban Forest Plan page on the City of Fremantle website.

Solar Farm business plan approved

The proposed solar farm on the former South Fremantle landfill site has overcome another hurdle, with Fremantle Council approving the business plan for the project.

To facilitate the project the City of Fremantle plans to lease the land at the site to Australian renewable energy company Epuron.

The Local Government Act requires councils to prepare and advertise a business plan whenever they undertake a commercial enterprise like a major land transaction.

The proposed lease outlined in the business plan includes a 25 year term at $1 per year, with the option to extend for a further 15 years.

It also provides for rent reviews every three years to allow the City to increase the rent if the solar farm starts to make a commercial return.

While the approval of the business plan brings the City a step closer to achieving its preference for locally-sourced green power, the lease with Epuron will not be executed until all of the environmental approvals for the project are achieved.

The site currently generates no income for the City, and the environmental constraints mean any permanent development is not feasible for many years. Leasing the land at a peppercorn rate will allow the land to have some use, with no change to the City’s financial obligations.

The idea of developing a solar farm was endorsed by the council in 2013 on the basis that the solar panel structures could be positioned above the surface of the soil and require little or no excavation or disturbance of what is a contaminated site.

However, the council has been very clear that we will not let this development proceed unless we are satisfied it is safe to do so. The community’s safety is our absolute priority.

The lease states that Epuron will be responsible for fulfilling all the environmental conditions relating to the project, and the lease can’t be signed without the approval of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.”

The solar farm is a key component towards the City achieving its One Planet Strategy target of being powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025.

It will cover approximately 8 hectares of the 19.4 hectare landfill site on Cockburn Road and produce up to 4.9 megawatts of power.

The City of Fremantle has been investigating land use and management options for the site since 1985.

Following an Expression of Interest process the City signed an exclusive working agreement with Epuron in 2015. Epuron submitted a development application for the project in January this year.

Planning approval for the project was granted by the City in April, but there are a number of conditions that must be satisfied prior to development commencing.

This includes the preparation of a Site Management Plan, which must be reviewed and approved by an independent contaminated sites auditor.

The Renew Nexus Smart Cities project alternative water solutions trial. 

You might remember a month or so ago there was a call out for the RENeW Nexus Participant Trial for a peer-to-peer energy trading trial across the City of Fremantle.

The Renew Nexus Smart Cities project is now looking for those with a bore to be part of the alternative water solutions trial.

The energy part is still open to new participants too.

This trial will enable participants with renewable energy systems (prosumers) to trade their surplus energy with Fremantle residents that do not own a system (consumers), providing them with a cleaner, more sustainable energy alternative across the network. As one of the world’s first trials of its kind, participation is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of the energy transition.

Liv Apartments Open Day This Saturday .

Liv sustainable housing complex of 166 apartments and 10 commercial premises on Queen Victoria Street is almost finished and they are holding an open day this Saturday at 1.30pm to 4pm.

Liv is the largest development in WA to be recognised by One Planet Living. It has a 7.5 start NatHERS average rating.

This is a development by Defence Housing Australia who are holding on to a third of apartments for their own us.

Along with the Heirloom apartments across the road, more than 500 people are expected to be living in this former commercial area. Of Fremantle’s $1.3b development pipeline, close to $600m is now completed or under construction.